The inaugural Groucho's District Three Challenge brought mixed results for Rock Hill's three high schools. The event also raised some questions about which teams are ready for the regular season.
Rock Hill lost 16-7 to Dorman. South Pointe came from behind to upend former Lancaster Bruins football coach Johnny Roscoe and his Northern Guilford Nighthawks, 21-12. Northwestern couldn't make tackles late in their 14-7 loss against Boiling Springs.
Dorman, the defending Class AAAA Division I champion is a preseason favorite to wind up at No. 1 again. Despite the loss, Bearcats coach Joe Montgomery found plenty of positives in his team's performance.
"If you told me before the game we'd play to 16-7 I'd have said you are (crazy)," Montgomery said, full of smiles. "We were better offensively than I thought we'd be. We stood toe to toe with Dorman."
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A couple downsides to the evening were Rock Hill's three first-quarter turnovers. A Bearcat fumble resulted in a 42-yard field goal by Dorman's Parker Langford. Another fumble led to a 10-yard touchdown run from Raymond Smith.
Sandwiched between the two loose balls was a pickoff thrown by Corey Wessinger.
Rock Hill's tandem of quarterbacks, Wessinger and Kenterius Hinton, is supposed to signal run or pass. Wessinger, the passer, was 3-for-9 for 28 yards. Hinton, the runner, carried the ball five times for 21 yards but also completed 3-of-4 throws for 51.
It was Hinton's finesse toss to the corner of the end zone that found Kirob Sims for Rock Hill lone touchdown.
Montgomery isn't ready to decide yet who will start at quarterback.
"Hinton threw well but there is still a lot of competition. We have a lot of people competing for spots," the coach said.
Dorman played a scrimmage against Irmo on Thursday. The Cavaliers top two quarterbacks, Trey Robinson and Nelson Hughes, were injured. Neither played Saturday against Rock Hill.
Casey Cohen had not taken a snap in practice until Friday. With one day of reps under center he finished the night completing 4-of-5 passes for 52 yards. His favorite target was wide receiver Charone Peake who will play for Clemson next fall. Peake grabbed three balls for 47 yards.
Dorman coach David Gutshall said he is rebuilding the Cavs defense and his team has some injuries to mend. "There is no reason to believe we won't get healthy and compete for a state title," Gutshall said.
South Pointe spotted Northern Guilford (N.C.) a 12-0 lead before racing back to win its scrimmage 21-12. Stallions' quarterback Ta Hicklin scored three touchdowns on runs of 66, 1 and 8 yards.
"Our football team grew up quick tonight by falling behind 12-0," South Pointe coach Bobby Carroll said. "We've got to get better."
The nation's top college recruit, Jadeveon Clowney, didn't disappoint. On one play a Nighthawks running back threaded his way through the interior line and broke free. Clowney shook off a double team and began chasing down the ball carrier who must have had an 8-yard head start.
Clowney, 6-foot-6 and 250-pounds, needed 42 yards to make the tackle. There was a flag on the play; holding against Northern Guilford. Still, the play may have been the highlight of the night.
Carroll kidded that Clowney will see double- and triple-teams the rest of his life.
Northwestern looked good offensively in its opening drive. Senior quarterback Justin Worley completed three passes including a 45-yarder to Brandon Lewis to set up a 5-yard scoring throw to Lathomas Long.
The Trojans fortunes faded as the rain began to fall.
Boiling Springs was content to keep the ball on the ground, and why not? Running back Hunter Cummins chugged out tough yardage and gobbled up clock. Cummins' spinning, diving touchdown run in the final minute gave his team the win.
"Unacceptable," Northwestern defensive coordinator Mike Biddix barked to his players after the touchdown.
Northwestern and South Pointe will tangle in front of a national TV audience next Saturday at District Three Stadium. ESPN will televise a football doubleheader beginning at noon with Byrnes vs. Hoover (Ala.) followed at 4 p.m. by the Trojans and Stallions.
Rock Hill opens the regular season Aug. 26 against Greer.